really awful
Crashes / Fires:
7 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
64,721 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2001 Toyota Highlander engine problems

engine problem

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2001 Toyota Highlander Owner Comments

problem #13

Jul 272015


  • 141,980 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated while attempting to park, the vehicle suddenly accelerated independently and crashed into a parked vehicle. The contact shifted the vehicle into reverse and crashed into the rear of a second vehicle. The police was contacted, but a report was not filed. The driver sustained whiplash and neck pains that did not require medical attention. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 141,980. MA 10/15/2015

- El Sobrante , CA, USA

problem #12

Mar 202012

Highlander 6-cyl

  • 56,600 miles
I was backing out of the garage when the car accelerated. I kept hitting the brake and it finally stopped. I put the car back into drive and it accelerated again. I tried hitting the brake and it wouldn't stop until it hit the garage door. I don't know how fast it was going, but it seemed like it was going at an excessive speed.

- Watertown, CT, USA

problem #11

Jan 172012


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Highlander. The contact stated that while stopped at a stop light, the vehicle suddenly accelerated on its own and crashed into the vehicle stopped in front of the contact. There were no damages to either vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic test, but the manufacturer would not allow a technician to inspect it. The manufacturer stated that they would send an engineer to examine the vehicle. The vehicle was not yet examined or repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #10

Jul 282008


  • 85,000 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Highlander. While driving 5 mph in reverse the vehicle accelerated on its own and crashed into a pole. The vehicle previously accelerated on its own while the brakes were applied and crashed into a vehicle. The contact sustained minor injuries to her neck. There was no mention of a police report being filed. The dealer stated that they could not duplicate the failure. The mechanic stated that the failure could be caused due to the accelerator pedal sticking. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 85,000 and the current mileage was 109000.

- Ankridge, AK, USA

problem #9

Apr 182010

Highlander 4WD 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
2001 Toyota Highlander purchased new. About once a year it accelerates on its own. Reported problem to Toyota dealer in 2002 or 2003 - have receipt. We can stop the car with firm pressure on the brake. In most cases when we put the transmission into park the engine continued to race at high RPM. I can't remember all incidents, but believe that in some cases was able to slow the engine down by keeping my foot on the brake and putting the car back into drive. Other times I turned off the ignition. When I restart the car it is fine. Most recent occurrence was Sunday 4/18/2010 in parking lot of a&P on South avenue in clark or westfield, NJ. My wife was in the car with me. I had been driving the car for about an hour. The last half hour was on the garden state parkway at 55+ miles per hour. Was off the parkway for less than 5 minutes when I made left turn into a&P parking lot and another left in the parking lot. Driving less than 15 miles per hour. Then was almost stopped as I was about to turn left into parking space. Noticed the engine RPM seemed a little higher than normal and I became more cautious and made sure my foot was firmly on the brake pedal. The engine RPM began to increase rapidly. I pressed on the brake pedal as hard as possible and was able to keep the car from moving forward, but the engine would not stop racing. I put the transmission in park and the engine continued to race at full throttle. I turned off the ignition and the engine stopped. Restarted the car after a minute and it was fine. Don't believe I was pressing on the gas at the same time as the brake because the two pedals are far enough apart that to do so my foot could only be halfway on the brake pedal. In that case when I press hard my ankle starts to twist. I am sure my foot was centered on the brake in this incident because I had time to prepare and it felt firmly in the center. I don't think the gas pedal was stuck because I had been driving very slowly immediately before the incident.

- Fanwood, NJ, USA

problem #8

Jun 252006


  • 52,000 miles
My 2001 Highlander has caused me so much stress. On June 25, 2006 I brought the Highlander in to Toyota crystal in greenbrook, NJ after having had two episodes in which the car kept accelerating even though my foot was off the gas pedal and the brakes did not help in slowing the car down. On both occasions I had put the car in neutral to slow it down. It is the same exact scenario that has been in the news this past month. The Toyota dealer was unable to help us in resolving the problem at that time. I still have a copy of the letter I gave to the dealer on that date describing the problem. When the news broke about the acceleration problem I called crystal Toyota. They offered to check the car again but was told we would have to pay for the analysis since it was not under the recall. So I called Toyota in morristown NJ where I had purchased the car in 2001. The manager told me to call Toyota corporate at 800-331-4331. I did so and after describing the car problem, was given case #1001138288 and assured that I would receive a call back within one business day. The call never came so my husband called Toyota back. The reason given to us for not calling back was that our car was not in the recall. The Toyota representative also told my husband that the parts under recall were not installed in the 2001 Highlander and to call customer relations at crystal Toyota. This time crystal offered to test drive the car for no charge but said they wouldn't know how to go about repairing it since no substitute piece for the 2001 exists. So the problem remains unresolved. This is a dangerous situation and I am sure that there must be other 2001 Highlanders with the same problem. Since those two experiences I only drive the car when it is absolutely necessary. Please investigate this matter. Unfortunately I did not know about NHTSA until this week. Otherwise I would have contacted NHTSA at an earlier date. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #7

Aug 012005


  • 90,000 miles


I own a 2001 Toyota Highlander and have had the same exact problem happen to me several times in the past seven years. The first time I experienced a serious problem was about four years ago and my son and I could have been killed had it not been for some fast thinking on my part. I was trying to stop at a red light and my car accelerated for no reason. At first, I thought my brakes had failed since when I stomped on the brake, my car would not stop, even though I had both feet pressing down on it. At this point, with cars in front of me that I was going to hit, I swerved into the turn lane and then all I could see was an 18 wheeler coming at me. I was so lucky there were no cars on the side road that I turned onto and all the while I was steadily trying to get my vehicle under control. I ended up throwing it into park as I made the turn. It took turning my car off to bring it to a complete stop. At that time, I thought my floor mat had somehow gotten stuck on the accelerator, so I took all my front floor mats out. Unfortunately, I have had the same problem of the car "revving" for no reason while driving it several times and/or upon starting it. It would just idle high in the 6/8 RPM range. We just thought it was cold. However, one day I was driving the car and it kept shooting forward at every stop. I'd have to stomp on the brakes with both feet. I'd pull off, stop my car, turn it off, restart it, and the RPM's who shoot back up to 8. I kept praying that I wouldn't have to stop. It was the most frightening 15 mile ride back home that I ever took and seriously, I wanted to just leave the vehicle on the side of the road. I refused to drive it and I took it to my mechanic who changed an RPM sensor. This has not stopped the problem either. Periodically, my car's RPM's will shoot up to 4 or 6 while I am driving it or upon starting the car.

- Covington, GA, USA

problem #6

May 122008


  • 52,000 miles
I was starting to slowly drive off the ferry boat as the ferryman was opening the gate. My Toyota Highlander 2001 sped up out of control. If the man had not jumped aside, he would have been run over. I had no control. My foot was not on the gas. Reported to local Toyota dealer. "mat problem". I replaced the mat with a heavy rubber mat.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #5

Sep 242001


  • miles
I bought a 2001 Toyota Highlander in Aug 2001. The 1st time I had a problem with the gas pedal was about a month later when I went to pull in at work. I parked up by the building and put on my brakes and the car revved up and I put on the brakes and it did want to stop. I finally got it stopped and sat there and wondered what had just happen. I let it go as I did not have an explanation. Everything was find up to the year 2009. I was taking my mom and brother to the grocery and mom is 86 yrs and I parked in a handicap spot that had a pole in front where the handicap sign was. My brother was in the front seat with me and to my amazement when I put on the brakes the car revved up and I had to push on the brake real hard. I did hit the pole and jarred all of us. I feel like this car model should be looked into.

- Fisherville, KY, USA

problem #4

Mar 092008


  • miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Highlander. The contact was driving approximately 40-50 mph on normal road conditions when pressure was applied to the accelerator pedal. The pedal stuck to the drivers side floor mat and suddenly, there was an unintended increase of acceleration. The driver was able to reposition the floor mat and continue driving. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection. The technician recommended that the driver side floor be removed. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Bloomfield, MI, USA

problem #3

Jan 212009


  • 169,794 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Highlander. While driving 10 mph the vehicle began to rapidly accelerate. After repeated brake application the vehicle would not stop. Consequently she crashed into a sign. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, and they installed a secondary hook to the floor-mat. Also she was advised that in April 2010 they would install a newly designed accelerator pedal. The failure mileage was 169,794.

- La Mesa, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 102004

Highlander 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
While driving at 10 mph and moving into a parking space vehicle accelerated and surged ahead. There were no injuries or a collision.

- Drumright, OK, USA

problem #1

Feb 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
While in a car wash driver released pressure from the brake pedal and the vehicle surged forward, hitting another vehicle. It bounced back and surged forward again, hitting a wall. Engine continued to race until the vehicle was shut off by the driver. Manufacturer was supposed to investigate the problem, but never informed the consumer of the findings.

- Boone, NC, USA

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